Magna Carta Law Law & Legal Definition


Magna Carta is a Latin term meaning "Great Charter". It was a document that established the rights of English barons and major landowners and limiting the absolute authority of the King of England. With Magna Carta, King John placed himself and England's future sovereigns and magistrates within the rule of law. It became the basis for the fndamental privileges and rights of English citizens. It was signed King John on June 15, 1215. The Magna Carta was confirmed by John's son, Henry III, and in turn by Henry's son, Edward I.

When representatives of the republic of the United States gathered to draft a constitution, they turned to the legal system they knew and admired--English common law as evolved from Magna Carta.